Vasectomies in Morningland

Vasectomy is a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to your semen. It’s done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. Vasectomy has a low risk of problems and can usually be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia” (Mayo Clinic, 2023)

When we came to Morningland, the Gopis or Sri Donato did not inform us of the group’s entire belief system, which included men’s vasectomies. We were entrusted with this tenet only after we became established members and disciples. There was an ongoing pressure to conform to the group’s norms and the leaders’ suggestions. As disciples we were more focused on accepting our spiritual teacher’s guidance and earning their trust than on protecting our bodies from decisions that can be difficult or impossible to reverse.

Testimony 1, 1979

At some point after the Escondido Temple dissolved – either 1979 or 1980 – Patricia started announcing in classes and at various times that in order for men to keep their spiritual energy it was best if we all had vasectomies. I must say I had no idea exactly what that meant. I could not imagine how retaining sperm in the body had anything whatsoever to do with “spiritual energy,” but of course we all needed to consider the source of this suggestion. She did make it fairly clear that this was all voluntary and no one was forced to do it, but of course with the steady drumbeat of programming regarding the status of the person giving us these suggestions, there was a lot of pressure to comply. Meaning: If God makes a suggestion, you should do it, whether you understand or not.

I was personally not interested in having it done; I was only 28 years old and the thought of never being able to have a child of my own was daunting. To be honest, I’d never given it much thought up until that time because my life was just not geared towards the usual things people did — children, career, etc. — so I was a bit surprised by my own internal resistance. My wife and I discussed it and she said that she wanted to stop taking the pill, and if I wasn’t going to do it, then she was going to have a tubal ligation, which of course is a far more invasive surgery for a woman than a vasectomy is for a man. I was certainly hesitant, but my wife was quite certain about her decision. At that time I could not see that I’d ever leave Morningland or that we’d ever get divorced, so it just seemed logical to me that I should have it done and not subject my wife to a more serious procedure. I also rationalized it by thinking that  a) the world had enough people already, and b) if we ever truly wanted a child we could always adopt one. The notion of continuing my own genetic line just didn’t seem that important to me, so the decision was made and I had the procedure done.”

Testimony 2, originally published in Desert Sun, 1986

Under a lot of pressure, I got an abortion,” said a woman who left the sect two years ago and didn’t want her name used. Later, her husband got a vasectomy under similar pressure, she said. The couple is now separated. She said she and her former husband had to get church permission to wed. When she got pregnant, she said, she was told by a Morningland ‘ gopi” (female minister) that if the pregnancy went full term, her discipleship would be jeopardized “Morningland was definitely against the basic family unit,” said former follower Roy. “All men were to have vasectomies.” (Ml in the News)

Testimony 3, 2007

Gopi Saravati met with my partner and me in a private setting. She introduced vasectomy as a spiritually needed procedure to help preserve male energy, adding that to do that would be to follow in the footsteps of the Master Donato (the founding guru). This was a very hush-hush information. However, it just so happened that my partner and I had already talked about vasectomy. None of us wanted to have children, which we knew before coming to Morningland. Once we made it past the age of 30, we decided that vasectomy was the best contraception for us. While Saravati did not directly influence our decision, her suggestion sped it up. I believe we were more of an exception than the rule, as many young adults either wanted to have children or did not know what they might want in the future. I often wondered whether Saravati or Kamazi talked to other young men and couples in Morningland about vasectomy and how many lives were changed because of their powerful influence.